Although I am a regular reader of reviews I have never before felt the need to write one myself. We have always taken the view that you can’t please all the people all the time and there will always be some professional complainers. We ... Read More
Although I am a regular reader of reviews I have never before felt the need to write one myself. We have always taken the view that you can’t please all the people all the time and there will always be some professional complainers. We do not fall into that category. So having cruised with P&O eight times in the last four years on all their ships I think we are capable of offering a balanced view of expectations and a benchmark for comparison purposes. Our experiences have always been favourable with no complaints, resulting in repeat bookings.
Having booked this cruise some 18 months ago mainly because of the destinations it was disappointing to receive an email four days before departure advising that one of the ports of call (Messina) would be cancelled because essential repair work need to be carried out in Malaga. Not a deal breaker in itself, although we have experienced P&O cancelling ports at the last moment at least twice before, but what followed certainly tested any loyalty we feel to P&O.
Somehow the essential work (to a propeller) did not prevent the ship arriving in Malaga a full 18 hours ahead of schedule, the work then ran into four days with little or no communication from the Bridge on the delay. It was obvious to all that the work had been pre planned for some time with a diving team having to be flown in from the US to complete the work. Draw your own conclusions why the work had to be done in the middle of a cruise when it was known about some considerable time before. This led to the ships Customer Services Manager issuing a letter to guests “for Insurance purposes for any potential claim” confirming that “no refunds or compensation had been given by P&O” for the changes. At best it was a clumsy and misguided attempt to deflect responsibility. Sorry P&O but my contract is with you and I am not going to make a claim on my insurance (even if I could) and incur increased premiums because of your inability to provide the contracted service. The senior management on the Bridge were conspicuous by their absence with communication poor at best, particularly during the delay in Malaga. In fairness communication did improve slightly after Malaga but we think that was because of all the complaints.
We then had an outbreak of norovirus, (P&O claimed it was brought onboard at Southampton). For the record, neither we nor a number of other guests we spoke with had been asked to complete the health declaration at embarkation, (a similar situation occurred when we travelled with P&O last March). If this simple procedure had been complied with perhaps the virus outbreak would have been prevented or contained. On a positive note there did seem to be a plentiful supply of sun beds. We were not sure if this was because more had been provided or because half the guests were struck down with norovirus and the other half down at reception complaining!
Throughout the 19 days there was continuous “essential” maintenance work being carried out, mainly on the lifeboats, with intolerable noise from early morning, it was like being on a building site. Lets be clear, this was not the routine maintenance that you always encounter on a cruise but full blooded heavy duty work. It got so bad guests were calling it the Maintenance Cruise. This essential work continued right up to the last sea day. One night we were sat in the Crows nest at midnight to the sound of sanding or similar accompanying the music. Of course this raises the question of how you define essential; essential for safety which raises questions, or essential to P&O and their profitability over the enjoyment of guests. Incidentally, it was quite ironic that following this “essential” lifeboat maintenance one of the tenders could not be lifted back in to position because of a ”technical problem”, necessitating a two and half hour delay in leaving Dubrovnik. You could not make it up.
The ship has absolutely no wow factor, no focal point in terms of atrium and we felt it had a bit of a strange layout, consequently there was no atmosphere. Much of the ship looked tired, with warped decking particularly Deck 10 Port side which was dangerous, dirty tatty window frames in the restaurant, just to mention a couple of areas. Most public areas appeared clean on first glance, but having said that we often saw cups, glasses and ashtrays that were not cleared away from outside areas for at least 24 hours. We only saw a vacuum cleaner being used twice and had doubts that our cabin had seen one throughout the 19 days. Likewise we saw litter on a carpeted stairwell that stayed there for at least two full days.
Many of the staff seemed unhappy (it was almost as if something had happened prior to departure which had upset them all), we felt there were fewer staff and certainly our steward had a huge workload. Generally the Medina restaurant appeared disorganised with long waits to be seated, further long waits to be served and then food which was mediocre in relation to our previous experiences. At times we felt it was a training ship for new recruits as the food and service differed from meal to meal.
One final point, P&O have a dress code, please apply it or dispense with it. Some people were going to dinner in tatty jeans and T-shirt, not quite the dress code P&O advertise.
So there you have it. A cruise we had been looking forward to for 18 months proved to be a major disappointment. Thankfully the destinations did not disappoint (not fussed on Cagliari), however the bits in between left a lot to be desired. We did meet some lovely people, (one who had booked the world cruise on the ship for 2020 and was cancelling), and without exception they all said they were bitterly disappointed with the ship and their experiences mirrored many of the aspects I have mentioned. By the way I have just read a review of the same cruise on CC congratulating the Capt and crew for their outstanding service saying what a great cruise and criticising a negative, whinging hostile group of passengers – mostly senior. Well I don’t fit into any of those categories (far from it), but there are times when you do have to call out poor service, shoddy communication and a lack of respect for guests enjoyment. I leave you to draw your own conclusions but if the majority of reviews and online comments about the cruise are negative then it says a lot. For the first time ever I have not been contacted by P&O to provide a review of the cruise. I wonder why?
Would we cruise on Arcadia again? Most definitely not. Will we cruise with P&O again? Well we have two further cruises booked with them and are waiting their response to a formal complaint. We will see how they respond and then decide. If you have already booked to go on Arcadia I really hope that you have a better experience. If you are thinking on going on Arcadia my advice is to keep reading all the reviews and then make your decision based on the balance of reviews. Good luck. Read Less